When the 1989 student-led democracy movement took over Beijing's iconic Tiananmen Square, Jiang Lin was working as a reporter for an official army newspaper, the Liberation Daily. Jiang was there when thousands turned out on April 15 to mourn late liberal premier Hu Yaobang, and when then premier Li Peng announced martial law would be imposed in Beijing. On the afternoon of June 3, just before the People's Liberation Army began massacring civilians, Jiang made her way to Beijing's Muxidi intersection, just in time to witness some of the worst bloodshed of the crackdown:
Local people kept yelling "Fascists!" and the troops were firing in the direction of the shouts, raking the crowd with machine-gun fire. We hit the deck until we thought that the army vehicles had moved on, having cleared a way through to Tiananmen Square.
So we headed off in the direction of Tiananmen Square, weeping as we walked. All along our route were scenes of incredible cruelty. My parents are both in the military; we had served in this same army that was now turning its guns on the civilian population. My mind just couldn't accept this reality. I was unbearably sad.
[When we arrived below the Tiananmen gate], we peered through to see gunfire everywhere, and soldiers' helmets silhouetted against the constant sound of gunfire, which never let up. At this point we were surrounded by officers of the People's Armed Police who started attacking us indiscriminately with electric batons, the high-voltage kind.
[We went to the Peking Union Medical College Hospital to seek treatment], and a bus drove in at the same time we did. The driver was weeping and yelling that he had wounded people in the back of his bus, and shouting to the medics to hurry up. There was blood all over the floor of the emergency room. The doctor told me that my injuries were the least serious, and that all of the rest were gunshot wounds. A nurse told me that she had never seen so many gunshot wounds, and that she couldn't take it. 'Look over there,' she said, 'those are all the bodies of people who were shot dead.' Later, someone called for the doctors to run out to Tiananmen Square and save people, and that so many people had died there. 'What makes you think we haven't?' the doctor replied. 'Our ambulances have been out there, but they were forced to turn back in the face of gunfire.'
There was one young man in one of the ambulances who told me to keep my head held high and not to lose hope, and that we hadn't lost. He pulled a clip of assault rifle bullets out of his pocket, saying 'these are my spoils of war.' He had been hit by a bullet outside the police department buildings. When the soldiers starting raking the area with machine-gun fire, he grabbed the gun away and lifted it up so the clip fell out, and the clip fell to the ground. He said he was hit by another bullet in the shoulder as he was grabbing the gun, but he managed to pull the clip out anyway. Those people were so brave.
Thirty years is a real threshold, because a whole generation is no longer with us. But we have keep working at it. If we didn't keep talking about it, then they wouldn't feel the pressure. This is a festering wound at the heart of the [ruling Chinese] Communist Party. Once it is exposed, the Communist Party will be finished.
Reported by C.K. for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.